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2010年9月13日 (月)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 10
EDITORIAL: Koran-burning in U.S..

A small Christian church in Florida called for the burning of the Koran, the sacred book of Muslims, on Sept. 11, the ninth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.

According to the church, the plan is aimed at alerting the world to the dangers of Islam, which it says "is of the Devil."

Anyone can imagine how much antipathy such an act would incur among people who believe in the Koran.

News about the plan made headlines around the world. In Afghanistan, where U.S. and European troops are stationed, residents staged protests. The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan warned that the book burning could put his troops in further danger. Such reactions are natural.

The building of a free and tolerant society is the foundation of the United States. First U.S. President George Washington wrote that the United States "gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance." It is clear the church's plan would run counter to this philosophy.

Everything must be done to prevent the rift between the United States and the Islamic world from widening. We urge the church to immediately cancel its plans.

The image of passenger planes hijacked by terrorists crashing into the World Trade Center towers in New York nine years ago is still fresh in our minds. In the background of that attack was Muslim extremists' antagonism and distrust against the United States, which holds much of the world's wealth and power.

The George W. Bush administration, which plunged into war in Afghanistan and Iraq, could not alleviate such anti-U.S. sentiments.

Signs of change appeared after President Barack Obama, who advocates reconciliation with the Islamic world, took over. He embarked on mediating Middle East peace and reached a decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

What has become clear now is the bitter conflict and agony within the United States over peaceful coexistence with Islam.

A plan to build a mosque near the site where the World Trade Center stood has reached a deadlock in the face of opposition by residents. While the plan is aimed at promoting understanding toward different cultures, some families of victims of 9/11 say it is an affront to the memories of their loved ones.

The number of Muslims around the world centering on the Middle East and West Asia is estimated at between 1 billion and 2 billion. The United States, a society of immigrants, is also home to millions of Muslims, and many mosques exist across the country. People of different religious faiths live in the same society.

In Europe, moves to exclude Islamic immigrants and ban women from wearing veils are emerging. Growing anxiety over the increase in jobless people and other issues is apparently behind the rising trend to cast a wary eye against social minorities.

But now, security and prosperity of not only the United States but also the entire world cannot be maintained without coexistence with Islam.

Last year, in a speech at Cairo University, President Obama quoted the Koran, the Talmud, the compendium of Jewish law, and the Bible, saying, "The people of the world can live together in peace."

We want U.S. society to eliminate narrow-minded thinking and recover its tradition of showing tolerance and magnanimity to accept different cultures.


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